Smaller targets, survival of plants to recover city’s green cover

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AmritsarPosted at: Jul 8, 2017, 1:26 AM; last updated: Jul 8, 2017, 1:26 AM (IST)


The Forest Department has decided to start a special drive to plant 1.80 lakh saplings across the district from this month. File Photo

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 7

With the Forest Department’s decision to start a special drive to plant 1.80 lakh saplings across the district from this month, the same old question of quantity over survival of the plants arises once again. The intentions of the administration and the department might be in the right place, but going by the failure of ensuring the survival of maximum plants sowed last season, a similar situation might become a challenge this year as well.
While the department has already set the wheels in motion to start this ambitious drive from the first week of the month, claiming that 4 to 5 per cent area is currently under the forest cover and it will be increased, the district administration, too, announced that a large number of trees would be planted. First things first, the procurement of the saplings was a major roadblock last time. “The administration and the MC had started an SMS a tree service for procuring saplings by anyone, who is interested in plantation. But it had a slow start and a quiet end as mostly there was no response. Also, taking in lakhs will not work, unless we set small targets. The plants under the plantation drive along the BRTS route last year couldn’t survive due to weather and lack of maintenance. Just announcing or planting the saplings is not enough, unless we ensure their survival,” said Deepak Babbar, a member of Mission Aghaaz, NGO that carried out successful plantation of 1,000 trees last year.
Similarly, Voice of Amritsar, another NGO, too, carried out successful plantation of approx 2,000 trees last season. Dilbir Foundation, by planting over 650 trees and Khudai Khidmatgaran, which planted more than 30,000 trees in collaboration with the BSF, too, kept their focus on survival of plants rather than counting the numbers. “The problem is that announcing 1 lakh trees to be planted means that one has to find space for them as well. Small shrubs and flowering plants are also counted in that number, which doesn’t help the cause. Instead, small targets must be made and achieved to get better results,” said Rajesh Sharma, a volunteer with an NGO.
The Forest Department will use government schools and institution land to plant the saplings, apart from forest strips of the department. The department would take care of the saplings planted on its strips for the coming three years to ensure their proper upkeep.
The divisional forest officer said special focus had been laid on planting site specific plants, so that they could grow well in the conducive environment like Neem, Drek, Mango, Jamun, Kachnar and others.

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